Post separation parenting advice urges us to build a “business relationship” with the “other” parent. You know, the person with whom you were once intimate, with whom you had a child (possibly several), and who you might currently despise, or at least really, really dislike.
I remember attending a post-separation parenting course sometime in 2013. Everything presented sounded perfectly reasonable and sensible. Building a new “business” relationship made a lot of sense to me. After all, I never wanted to be intimate with my former partner again and certainly did not want to be “friends”. So, if we absolutely had to have some type relationship then a business relationship it would be. Even though I couldn’t stand to be around him, found it difficult (ok, impossible) to be civil toward him, and constantly felt angry towards him, I had this fantasy that we could embark upon a new business relationship. He just needed to change. A lot. Of course when he attending a similar course he came to a similar conclusion: a business partnership would be ideal but could only work if I changed a lot.
How do you think that worked out for us?
It was a disaster. It was costly from a financial and emotional perspective on each of us AND negatively impacted on our children. Mediation was useless though we gave is a real go with multiple sessions. Fueled by our anger we wound up in the court system. It took 2 years and tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the extreme levels of stress and hours lost to complaining about each other to our friends and family members before we came to a hurried, last-minute agreement 2 days before trial (our lawyers warned us that going through trial would be extremely unpleasant and even more costly). It was exhausting, distressing, time-consuming and really, really HORRIBLE. The conflict just didn’t end. We weren’t violent towards each other. There was no yelling or screaming. We refused to get along. We refused to get help. We were not able to co-parent effectively together and the kids suffered. We returned to court 2 years later to ‘renegotiate’ new court orders because the original orders were not flexible and things necessarily changed as the kids got older. That cost us both even more money, caused more stress and ate up a lot of time.
It is unlikely you will have an effective business relationship with the other parent if one or both of you:
- carry a lot of anger towards the other parent, or feel contempt for them
- don’t trust the other parent
- criticise the other’s parenting
- are rigid and inflexible in your beliefs about how your children must be raised and insist that the other parent must adhere to your parenting rules and beliefs
- threaten, try to intimidate or control the other parent
- are aggressive or violent
- attempt to purposefully irritate or anger the other parent
- believe that you have zero responsibility for the state of your relationship with the other parent
This list is not exhaustive. But, I hope you get the idea.
I sincerely wish that we had sought help to learn how to navigate building a different relationship after separation. My kids do too – as older teenagers they are quite happy to share their opinions on what they perceive to be their parents’ childish, churlish behaviour and how it negatively impacted on them. What I didn’t know then is that all it takes is one person in the relationship to take responsibility for their contribution to the conflict and make a change.
If you would like to talk about problems you are experiencing with the other parent or investigate options for improving matters, book an appointment for a free 15-minute discovery call.